Dec 7, 2010
Keep America Beautiful and the Dept. of Agriculture Team UpSource: USDA Office of Communications

The USDA and Keep America Beautiful have sustained nearly 700 community gardens this past year.

As partners in the USDA’s People’s Garden Initiative, Affiliates of Keep America Beautiful (KAB) have responded to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) call to action in sustaining nearly 700 community gardens this past year.

“Real and effective change starts small and it starts in our communities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “With the help of Keep America Beautiful we can ensure that the ideas behind the People’s Garden are adopted and improved upon in communities across the country.”

“Keep America Beautiful affiliates have always been leaders in beautification and community greening at the grassroots level,” said Keep America Beautiful President and CEO Matthew McKenna. “The People’s Gardens initiative, and our partnership with the USDA, is a demonstration of how the work of our affiliates fosters civic pride and sustainable gardening throughout the country.”

Secretary Vilsack and People’s Garden Director Livia Marques invited Keep America Beautiful to join this sustainable garden movement at KAB’s 2009 National Conference in Washington, D.C. Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s largest community improvement network, responded by engaging nearly 200 of its national network of affiliates in this effort to incorporate sustainable conservation practices.

Secretary Vilsack launched the People’s Garden program in February 2009, to commemorate the bicentennial of President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. The initiative is an effort by the USDA to challenge its employees to establish People’s Gardens at USDA facilities or help communities create gardens through collaborative efforts. Each ‘People’s Garden’ can vary in size and type, but they must include the following three components:

  • Benefit the Community: Gardens benefit communities in many different ways.They can create spaces for leisure or recreation that the public can use, provide a harvest to a local food bank, be a wildlife friendly landscape, or be a rain garden to absorb storm water run-off and protect the soil from erosion.
  • Be Collaborative: The garden must be created and maintained by a partnership of local individuals, groups, or organizations.
  • Incorporate Sustainable Practices: The garden must include gardening practices that nurture, maintain and protect the environment – such as capturing rainwater in rain barrels, composting and mulching, planting native species, and encouraging beneficial insects that feed on destructive pests.

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